Steve and Karen Sanger

In 2015, Michigan Ross alumnus Stephen W. Sanger, MBA ’70, and Karen Sanger made a defining gift of $20 million to establish the Sanger Leadership Center and continue the legacy of leadership development to which Steve had devoted his career.

Steve Sanger served as chairman and chief executive officer of General Mills, Inc., during the final 13 years of his 34-year career with the company. During his tenure as CEO, the company’s net sales nearly tripled from $5 to $14 billion, and its global workforce grew from 10,000 to 30,000 employees.

One of Sanger’s greatest accomplishments at General Mills was fostering a culture that attracted and developed excellent leaders; the company was regularly listed among Fortune’s Most Admired Companies and 100 Best Places to Work. In 2007 and 2009, it was ranked #6 and #3 in Fortune’s list of the top global companies for the development of leaders.

Sanger was elected chairman of the board of Wells Fargo in 2016, a position he held until his retirement from the board in 2017. He is also a past director at Pfizer (since 2009) and served on the board of Target from 1996 to 2013. Today, he is a member of the Sanger Advisory Board and the Ross School Advisory Board.

Karen Sanger was a secondary school teacher before becoming an attorney specializing in small business law. She, her husband, and their children, Mark and Ashley, share a passion for U-M.

With the Sangers’ gift, the Center has created an array of custom programs and workshops. The Center has also been able to expand beyond Michigan Ross, offering leadership development programs for students across the university.

Steve and Karen Sanger